Mamma Wicklow planted her feet, folded her arms, and fixed one of her famous looks on the man behind the counter. Her look said, “I’m not moving an inch until I get my way, so don’t try anything funny.”
The man behind the counter withered like a snail in the sun under Mamma’s gaze. His name was Mr. Fleming, and he was one of the finest shoebakers in the city. He looked at Mamma with big round eyes behind big round eyeglasses and scratched his white mane of hair. Puffs of flour came out as he did so, and Mamma wondered whether his hair was white from age or just from flour, sugar, and baking powder.
“Oh, very well!” Mr. Fleming finally cried, throwing up his hands. “Seven pairs of breadclogs for half price. I can’t even believe I’m saying it! You’re as stubborn as a goat in a tar pit, Mrs. Wicklow. If my wife finds out about this, I’ll be thrown out once and for all, no mistake.”
Mamma dropped her sour look and gave the shoebaker a haughty smile. “I knew you’d come around. Size twelve clogs for me, ten for Mr. Wicklow, seven for Verona, six for the twins, four for Waldo, and size one for Pip. I won’t be needing mine wrapped, thank you. I’ll be wearing them straight away.”
Mr. Fleming grumbled and sighed. He picked out the appropriate sizes from the baskets lining the wall behind him. Mamma set a stack of coins on the counter and sat down on a wooden bench. She slipped her pair of breadclogs on her feet, then wiggled her toes and grinned. “Still warm!”
Mr. Fleming wrapped the rest of the shoes in a baker’s cloth and handed them to Mamma.
“Until next year,” she said.
“It’ll be too soon,” muttered Mr. Fleming, but Mamma didn’t hear. She pushed out the doors of Fleming’s Shoebakery and stepped into the city of Poort Van Winkle.
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